Brazil’s homophobic President Jair Bolsonaro, who has tested positive for COVID-19 after downplaying the pandemic, told aides that masks are “for fairies,” according to a major Brazilian newspaper.
Bolsonaro, who has been as resistant to masks as Donald Trump is, made the comment to staffers earlier in the crisis, Folha de São Paulo columnist Monica Bergamo reports. Her story is in Portuguese, and the full version is available only to subscribers, but The Guardian reports that Bolsonaro taunted aides who were wearing masks by saying the protective gear was “‘coisa de viado’ (a homophobic slur that roughly translates as ‘for fairies’).” Some Twitter users have translated it as “for fags” or “a faggot thing.”
The Brazilian president, who has been praised by Trump and is known as the “Trump of the Tropics,” has made many anti-LGBTQ+ statements over the course of his career, such as saying he’d rather have a dead son than a gay one and that gay people try to brainwash children in order to groom them as future sexual partners. He is also notorious for his racism and misogyny.
He’s getting roasted over the mask comment. “President, one day a fairy, like me and many others, will sit in the presidential chair, and be an infinitely better president than you were,” law professor and columnist Thiago Amparo tweeted, according to a Guardian translation.
Bolsonaro’s remark “gives people rhetorical ammunition to perpetuate even more violence and discrimination against LGBT people,” Amparo told the publication. “Even if it was in a private conversation that he apparently made this comment, it is really just a reiteration of what he has been saying for his whole political career. He has built his political career around misogynist, LGBT-phobic, and racist comments like this.”
Journalist and podcaster Thiago Theodoro tweeted, “Do you know what’s for fairies, president? Being proud of who we are. Having the courage to carry on. Loving, building families, surviving with dignity and happiness in our hearts, in spite of people like you.”
Bolsonaro announced Tuesday that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which he had once described as merely a “little flu.” In disclosing his diagnosis, he finally acknowledged that the virus could be deadly, especially for people in his age group; he is 65.
He also has finally started wearing a protective mask, but during much of the pandemic, he has appeared in public maskless and shaken hands of supporters. Brazil is a hot spot for the virus, having infection and death rates second only to those of the U.S. In another similarity to Trump, Bolsonaro has touted the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, even though scientific studies don’t indicate that it does any good. It has potentially fatal side effects as well.
He removed his mask while backing away from reporters at a press conference Tuesday, and now the Brazilian Press Association has sued him, saying he violated a law against knowingly spreading a serious ailment, NPR reports.
“Despite knowing he was infected with COVID-19, President Jair Bolsonaro continues to act in a criminal manner and endanger the lives of others,” said a statement released by Paulo Jeronimo de Sousa, president of the press group.
“The country cannot watch continued behavior that is beyond irresponsible and constitutes clear crimes against public health, without reacting,” he added.